Teachers and students waved signs and cheered at traffic in front of Dutcher Middle School in Turlock this morning, and later in the day students and faculty turned out by the dozens on the CSU Stanislaus campus as part of a statewide “Day of Action” to draw attention to drastic budget cuts to the education system.
"The students, united, will never be divided" chanted students and others in the demonstration on the quad at CSU Stanislaus. A number of students, faculty members and others spoke to the crowd assembled in the bright noonday sun.
At Dutcher, seventh-grader Jacob Mabie, 12, held up a sign made by his mom, a teacher at Turlock High: “Education Cuts Never Heal.”
He came out before school started to join the display. Clad in a sweatshirt and basketball shorts, was he cold?
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Similar protests were seen at schools throughout the state and the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
In Modesto, yeachers held SOS signs in front of schools and passed out fliers to parents detailing spending cuts to state and area schools. Teachers at some schools donned life-preservers.
Most parents were receptive to the fliers, and teachers urged them to contact area legislators to restore funding to schools.
Fremont Elementary School mom Danita Thomson is concerned about larger class sizes next year.
“Teachers work really hard already,” she said. “They can’t reach every child and not every child learns at the same rate. Larger classes makes that job more difficult, almost impossible.”
At Freedom Elementary School in east Modesto, and nearby Dan Savage Middle School, teachers were in front of their schools before the first bell holding signs with honks of support from cars that passed by.
At Dutcher in Turlock, the student support was an unexpected and nice surprise, said Leisa Machado, a language arts and history teacher.
She said response has been positive, with lots of thumbs-up and horns honking.
“Some people looked a little confused,” said instructor Gloria Ontiveros, who held a sign that said “Proteger Respetar Nuestros” with a drawing of children. “Could be the Spanish.”
But at 8:20, the protestors turned back into teachers.
“Okay, kids,” Machado said. “That’s the bell. Time to go in.”
College students at CSU Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College also hold events today, along with students across the state and nation.